I'm the author of the Guide to Freshwater Swimming Holes in Australia www.ozswimmingholes.com and the Guide to Waterfalls in Australia www.ozwaterfalls.com
Published July 1st 2012
The MCG is the home of Australian Rules Football, but with 100,000 seats to choose from, how do you know which one will be the best to enjoy the spectacle of this great game? For the general public, it comes down to three choices: The Ponsford Stand, the Olympic Stand or the Great Southern Stand. After considering the wind, the rain, the direction of the sun, public transport access and seating restrictions, here are my thoughts on the best general admission (standard reserve) seating at the venue:
The Great Southern Stand - The AFL forces the general public up onto the top tier of the stand. Don't head up here if you are prone to vertigo or if you don't have 20/20 eyesight, as you will be a long way from the playing surface. On sunny days, you'll be looking directly into the sun for most of the game. On the plus side, there is cover from the rain at the very top of the stadium and the steep seating means that you have a good line of site relative to the person in front of you. The position on the wing also means that you can survey the whole ground easily. The ground level seats in the forward pocket are better, but look directly into the sun in the last quarter of the game.
The Olympic Stand - The upper tier of the Olympic stand is in a good position with regards to the sun and provides a clear view of most of the ground. On sunny days, this would be the preferred upper level seating, because it feels closer to the playing surface than the equivalent seating elsewhere. The only disadvantage is that there is no cover from the wind and rain, so it is not suitable on cold and rainy days, when this south facing stand bears the brunt of the Melbourne weather. The ground level seats are well positioned, but fill up quickly. This would normally be the dead pocket where the ball gets stuck due to the southerly winds, but since the construction of the Great Southern Stand, the wind at ground level tends to swirl rather than head in any particular direction.
The Ponsford Stand - Whenever there is a small crowd at the MCG, the upper tier of the Ponsford stand is always empty, which says volumes about its lack of popularity with die-hard fans. The main issue is the distance from the playing surface, particularly when trying to see the game up the opposite end. The ground level seating offers very good views of the ground. It is also generally better protected from the sun and the southerly wind and rain. Lastly and most importantly, it's at the opposite end of the main public transport routes to the ground, so the seats don't fill as quickly as the equivalent sought after ground level seats in the Olympic and Great Southern stands.
The Final Verdict - After considering all of the above, in my opinion the best general admission (standard reserve) seating at the MCG is in Section M30 on the lower level of the Ponsford Stand. Enter via Gate 1 at the city end of the ground.